What A Principal Knows About Great Teachers.

  Jennifer Ries

 Teachers and parents…when you meet your child’s teacher this year…think about the following post that I was sent on Facebook. Think about the post as the school year begins to progress! I really didn’t intend to have a post on education so soon after the teacher post that I wrote yesterday!


However…this article seems so right and so very in line with my thinking. These are qualities that a teacher REALLY needs…not just the ability to “teach to the test” so that the children will make high scores on a state test. These are the teachers who teach to the whole child…the teacher who will be remembered for years.


teacher one




The following article is written by Dr. Danny Steele, a secondary principal in Alabama. In 2016, Dr. Steele was named the Alabama Secondary Principal of the Year. He writes a blog titled “SteeleThoughts”…I don’t think that it is on WordPress. This is assuredly a site to be discovered! 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Things That Principals Know About Great Teachers

I have had the privilege of working with many great teachers.  These are some things that are true about them:

Great teachers don’t always have the best lessons.  But they always have the best relationships with kids.

Great teachers understand that developing the right classroom climate is a prerequisite to teaching the right lesson.

When a lesson does not go as planned, great teachers are not looking around the room… they are looking in the mirror.

Great teachers always come to class ready to teach… but they are mindful of the fact that not all students come to class ready to learn.

Great teachers understand the power of human connection, so they are diligent about building relationships with their students.  They are even relentless about connecting with the knuckleheads.

Great teachers don’t show up for WORK… they show up for KIDS!  It’s a passion — not a job.

Great teachers understand the “Golden Rule” for educators: Teach every child the way you would want your own child to be taught.

Great teachers are not intent on winning “battles” with the students.  They understand that if there is a battle in the classroom, nobody wins.

Great teachers define their success by the success of their students.  They understand it’s not about the teaching… it’s about the learning.

Great teachers are not defined by their lesson plans… they are defined by their passion.

Great teachers are in it for the kids.  It’s not about the lesson plan, the rules, or the massive paycheck. It’s always about the kids.

Great teachers will spend some time this summer thinking about how they can improve their lessons next year.  That’s just what they do.

Kids leave their class feeling better about themselves… because great teachers understand there is more to teaching than delivering instruction.

Great teachers are never victims of “slacker kids.” They refuse to let those students get away without doing the work.

Great teachers are not driven by courses of study… they are driven by the faces in front of them.

Great teachers can look past the bad attitude.  They realize there’s always something else going on.

Great teachers did not become great by accident.  They became great because they made a decision that being “good” was not enough.

All teachers have bad days.  Great teachers never lose perspective, and they refuse to let their personal drama undermine the positive energy in the classroom.

Great teachers are always in pursuit of a better lesson.  They demand the same excellence of themselves that they work for in their kids.

Our world is a better place because of the passion and dedication of great teachers everywhere.  They inspire me daily.





teacher two

One Teacher. 22 Children. There’s Always One You Wonder About…Years Later.


When I first started teaching public school, I had no idea what I was getting into. I did not know how sweet the children could be. I did not know how difficult the children sometimes could be. I did not know about the huge amounts of paperwork. I did not know about the long hours of preparation. I did not know that a teacher could become so overwhelmed by preparation…that the teacher could easily forget to understand each child…   to give each child the individual attention they needed. I did not know how to savor each moment spent with a child…how to make the best of each moment.


class four


That first year…almost 20 years ago…I learned so much about me, about the children, about their needs…I learned so much that the professors never mentioned in my education classes…


Such as…how poverty can cause a child to be fearful and withdrawn.

Such as…the fact that hunger is real and it exists where you least expect it.

Such as…the school might be the very best and cleanest and prettiest place that they have ever been.

Such as…just how much the teacher can impact a class by simply cherishing their very presence.

Such as…that their family might be in the survival mode instead of the loving their child mode.


classroom one


Cherish? Survive? Love? Teach? Protect? So many roles all at the same time. So many children. How in the world could I do it? Maybe I was not meant to teach…



Johnny was in my class for two different grade levels. The classes just turned out that way. It was a very large elementary school…well over 1,000 students. Some grade levels had seven or eight classrooms. It was just a lucky coincidence that I had Johnny for a second year. I was thrilled!


class three

However, Johnny’s family life had changed in the two years since I had him in a lower grade level. His mother couldn’t come to the school very much. I never heard anything from the father. Johnny came to school hungry. If he arrived at school a little late and missed breakfast…he would cry. I would get someone to go to the cafeteria to find something for him. I started keeping snacks in my desk for just such an occasion.


class two

Johnny did not have all of the supplies that he needed. This never happened when he was in my class before. Clearly, something was going on at the house. The parents would not show up for conferences. Johnny would not talk about what was wrong.

I concluded that the parents perhaps had lost their jobs. Or perhaps that one parent had lost a job. There were multiple children in one small house. Too many mouths to feed…too much worry to give much love to this boy… this boy who needed so much attention.


I looked for a way to reach Johnny. I knew that he was an excellent artist even as a younger child. I found him a drawing pad and special pencils. Johnny was instantly a brand new child. A happy child…at least…at school. The whole class was in awe of his obvious talent.

Johnny had a good year. Things seemed to get a bit better at his house. He started making it to school in time for breakfast. He started doing his homework. He started answering questions about stories from the basal reader. He started checking out library books and writing book reports. He started to be a strong leader. He started to grow up and to know that someone indeed did care…in fact, a lot of people cared besides just me. The music teacher, the P.E. teacher, the art teacher, the janitors, the principal…everyone cared about Johnny.


Actually, everyone cared about everyone at that particular school. And that is how one little boy learned about confidence and courage and friendship.


And one new teacher learned about the power of listening to a child, about the power of observing a child, about the power of caring about a child. And one teacher learned that she could do the same for all of the children in the class.


And it all started because of a drawing pad and a set of special pencils.


class six



The Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee. Don’t Forget the Biscuits!!

 Loveless Cafe

The Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee is definitely one of the best home cooking restaurants around and I am certainly not the only person who feels that way. Ask the hundreds and hundreds of customers each day. The Loveless Cafe is also a good place where you might  see some celebrities, but the food is really the main attraction.

Located just about 22 miles from downtown Nashville, The Loveless Cafe serves down home, old fashioned from scratch southern cooking…country hams, fried chicken, red-eye gravy, homemade preserves, sweet corn…you name a southern dish and you will probably find it on the menu.

The cafe opened in 1951 in the same location where it is today. The interior of the original owner’s family home was turned into a dining room and kitchen. The menu has remained virtually the same with the most popular item being the homemade biscuits. The secret recipe for the biscuits has been passed down through the years.

The Loveless Cafe has a personality of its own… a friendly staff, no “big city” prices and as many of the hot biscuits as you want. And…if you are still hungry, there is always a slice of homemade pie!



Daily Specials*

  • Monday's Special - Chicken-Fried Chicken n' Gravy

    Monday… Chicken-Fried Chicken n’ Gravy

  • Tuesday's Special - BBQ Chicken

    Tuesday… BBQ Chicken

  • Wednesday's Special - Chicken n' Dumplings

    Wednesday… Chicken n’ Dumplings

  • Thursday's Special - Watermelon Ribs

    Thursday…Watermelon Ribs

  • Friday's Special - Hot Chicken

    Friday…Hot Chicken

  • Saturday's Special - Honey-Fired BBQ Chicken

    Saturday…Honey-Fired BBQ Chicken

  • Sunday's Special - Smoked Beef Brisket

    Sunday…Smoked Beef Brisket

*Subject to Change

Daily specials often sell out before the day is over so make sure you get here early!






A Recipe from The Loveless Cafe…

Pepper Steak



1/2 cup chopped onion

2 green peppers, cut into strips

1/2 cup (one stick) butter

2 pounds round steak, cut into 8 pieces

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can (16-ounce) chopped tomatoes

1 beef bouillon cube, crushed

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)


Saute the onion and green peppers in the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender; drain. Remove the vegetables to a bowl. Arrange the meat in the pan drippings in the skillet. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until the meat is brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Combine the tomatoes and crushed bouillon and pour over the meat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk together the cornstarch, water, soy sauce, sugar, and salt and add to the tomato mixture. Cook until the tomato mixture is thickened and the meat is tender. Stir in the onion and green peppers and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.

***Makes 8 servings




The Loveless Cafe is located at:

8400 Highway 100-22 miles from Nashville, Tennessee

Hours of Operation:

Open daily from 7:00 am-9:00 pm


Are We Close To August Yet?

August-2017-Calendar-Monthly-1 (1)


 Just sitting here wondering about August being still a couple of weeks away. Actually more than two weeks. August is eighteen days away.

Eighteen days of hot weather. Eighteen days of waiting. Eighteen days of no mountains. Eighteen days of not worrying about a bear on a trail. Eighteen days of not being amazed by the views. Eighteen days of counting the days.






Colorado twelve


The Elephant and the Tailor. A Short Story with a Moral.

“An Elephant and a Tailor” is an ideal story for an early childhood class. As with quite a few children’s short stories, the meaning of the story can reach out to many adults. Let me rephrase that statement…some adults need to listen to the moral of the story!


Moral of “An Elephant and a Tailor”…

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”



Read the story and see if you agree with the moral…



Tailor two


There are several different versions of the story…all with the same moral viewpoint…






A Family Tree and DNA. My Heritage. My Family. My Foundation.

ancestry one


Family Trees are unbelievably fascinating to me. I started working on our family tree at least six years ago. I joined Ancestry.com on a whim. I had been looking through old family photographs and thinking about…Who were the people?…What did they hope to accomplish in their lives?…When did they marry or did they remain single?…Where did they originally come from?…Why did they look so serious or so happy?…How did they lead their lives?


Who? ? ? 

What? ? ?   

When? ? ?

Where? ? ?

Why? ? ?

How? ? ?


Literally, the basic and the most important questions that journalists attempt to precisely answer are “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and the inevitable “how”. These are the first elements of writing that I learned in my first journalism class in college. In trying to figure out the puzzle of a Family Tree, I thought about these questions and how they would give me more information about my relatives. As in any good story, the writer (or in this case…the researcher) needs to figure out what questions are not being answered. The best help can come from photographs and copies of old documents such as census or marriage records.

As I delved deeper into my family history, I knew that I would need new technology and scientific concepts. DNA appeared to be the direct route to the ultimate units of universal information.




The first portion my DNA results from Ancestry.com:

My Ethnicity Estimate According to Ancestry.com DNA Testing…

Europe 100%


1. Great Britain



2. Europe West



3. Ireland


4. Europe East


5. Iberian Peninsula



6. Finland/Northwest Russia

< 1%


7. Scandinavia

< 1%




A second portion of my DNA results from Ancestry.com…Genetic Communities.


Genetic Communities™ are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived.

For example, some Genetic Communities trace their roots back to groups of people who were isolated geographically. Mountains, rivers, lack of roads, or other barriers made it likely that each new generation would marry someone who lived close to home. Others have their roots in groups who typically married others of the same religion or ethnic group. In each case, these groups came to share a significant amount of DNA. Modern-day descendants who inherited some of that DNA make up Genetic Communities.




My Genetic Communities:

According to Ancestry.com, the majority of my relatives lived in the following locations…some for hundreds of years…some arrived in the mid to late 1880s…


1. Settlers of Northwest Alabama

2. Settlers of Western Tennessee, Arkansas & Northeast Texas

3. Early Settlers of the Deep South

Pictured above is the home owned by my great-great grandfather in Nashville, Tennessee… as it looks today….a blue house with a picket fence. The house was built in the late 1880s and is shown in the top right picture in the early 1900s. My relatives are standing in the front of the house. The entry hall staircase evidently looks as new today as it did when the house was built. The house has had numerous owners and is now divided into four apartments. It is located on Park Avenue not far from downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt University and  Centennial Park.



The information concerning my Genetic Communities is totally on target. My maternal great-great grandfather immigrated to Nashville, Tennessee from Oldham, Lancashire, England in the mid 1800s. He was a very young man. My mother grew up in Nashville and I still have relatives who live there. On my father’s side of my family, his relatives lived in Tennessee and moved to Arkansas in the 1800s. My grandfather was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the late 1800s. Later, he moved his family to Louisiana and then to Texas. I grew up in Northeast Texas. Through research, I discovered that my paternal ancestors were indeed very early settlers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.



Ancestors. Family. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Some that I knew when I was growing up. Some that I am just now finding. My DNA results identified 1,498 4th cousins or closer who are currently living somewhere around the world! Unbelievable!! 


ancestry two

Abstract. Use. Space. Idea. Life and Architecture.


FLW one

The architect brings abstract thought to fruition…to reality. The architect finds a way to combine the beauty of nature with the beauty of life. In a way, we are all the most important architects of our own lives. Unlike professional architects, some of us seem to choose a life without a plan…floundering under the guise of needless procrastination. Some of us have not been introduced to the idea of reality…to the real idea that we have a less than expansive time to create a masterpiece of a life. And yet…we all have that opportunity…should we decide to reach towards that particular choice.

In my own thinking, the word “architect” means the type of person who takes a blank canvas of earth and turns an object…turns a building…turns a dwelling… into a companion to the trees, the sky, the hills, the water.


flw nine


A professional architect blends the earth and the building together so that they complement each other. Can you do that with your own life? It takes effort, but you surely can put forth that effort.


flw eight

An interesting article on architecture was written by Steven Holt on “What is Architecture? (Art?)”…and published in “The Brooklyn Rail”.  Holt is considered one of America’s most intriguing and important of currently established architects. He has been widely recognized and honored for his ability to blend space and light with contextual sensitivity.

Holt’s article defines architecture with simply four words:


1. Abstract: Architects work from the abstract to the real. Architecture does have constraints such as safety, function, economy…and yet, it can transcend to inspire with ideas in space and light. 

2. Use: A function of architecture is to inspire. Architecture’s highest “use” is to inspire us.

3. Space: Architecture draws us from one location to the next. It seems that the idea of architecture can surround us like music. Architecture, like life, is the art of space.

4. Idea: Architecture has an idea…a link between concept and form. The idea of space and light and detail convey the art of architecture. This occurs whether or not the organizing idea is really totally grasped.

“This idea is a hidden thread connecting disparate parts with exact intention”…states Steven Holt.


flw quotes

If at first you do not succeed…try again and again and again. You cannot just bury your mistakes in the sand.




In comparing the concept of architecture in constructing a building to the concept of architecture in constructing your life…I believe that we can see a common thread. We need to have a plan, an idea, a concept, an intention…we need to fill our space with light. We need to find a way to be an inspiration to our own part of the world.





Hungarian Liptauer Cheese Spread!

Liptauer Cheese

When I first heard about Liptauer Cheese, I refused to try it after I read the recipe. The idea of anchovy paste and capers was not the least bit interesting. Soon after, I was served Liptauer Cheese Spread as one of several appetizers at a wedding reception. Since I was typically talking and not paying any attention to what was on my plate, I had no idea what I was eating. I just knew that it was good. Very good.


Surprise! Liptauer Cheese was the most delicious appetizer being served! 


The Dallas Junior League Cookbook was first published in 1976 and I added it to my “just beginning” cookbook collection soon after. I cannot believe that this book is now 41 years old. I must have been a small child when I bought it. Sure!



I found my favorite Liptauer Cheese Spread recipe in my new cookbook…a good recipe even in 2017!









8 heaping tablespoons cottage cheese

3 ounces cream cheese

1/2 medium onion, grated

1 1/2 teaspoon capers, drained

3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 heaping teaspoon anchovy paste

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon white wine

***I add 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, but it is not included on the original recipe!***



Sieve and blend cottage cheese with cream cheese. Beat in onion and all other ingredients, folding in capers. Chill at least two hours before serving with thin crunchy wafers.

Serves eight as a spread.





Pine Cove: Half a century of ministering to the whole family – TylerPaper.com

Pine Cove two

The following is an article about a wonderful summer camp in East Texas…Pine Cove. Both of our children attended Pine Cove from third grade through their senior year in high school. Our son-in-law also attended Pine Cove. What an amazing experience for our entire family! The friendships, the beautiful setting, the life lessons and the camaraderie of the entire staff are still impacting our lives today!



***click on the link below for the entire story!***


Every year, at a camp by a lake in the piney woods of East Texas, the lives of tens of thousands…

Source: Pine Cove: Half a century of ministering to the whole family – TylerPaper.com